BOSTON — After 28 years of Women’s Beanpot Tournaments, the Eagles have finally landed on the pedestal.
Tournament MVP Deborah Spillane scored two early-period goals — one 37 seconds into the game and the other three minutes into the second period — to lift Boston College (16-9-4) to a 2-0 win over seven-time defending champion Harvard (12-9-4) on the Crimson’s home ice.
BC had been the only Boston school never to win the Beanpot before tonight. Even Brown had won more titles from its one year of participation in 1993.
“This is such a special win for our seniors, and this is a special win for anyone who’s worn the Boston College jersey I hope they all feel part of it,” said BC coach Tom Mutch.
After BC’s men’s Beanpot final defeat on Monday, losing coach Jerry York told Mutch to make sure the school still got one title. The sophomore Spillane, who grew up watching the men’s tournament from Franklin, Mass., rose to the opportunity to make history.
As BC was in the midst of its first line change, Spillane’s freshman linemate Meghan Fardelmann put the puck on net. Harvard senior goalie Ali Boe had trouble handling it, and Spillane crashed the net from the neutral zone and scored for the 1-0 lead.
Then early in the second period, Spillane’s other linemate Sarah Feldman won the puck in the neutral zone and passed off to Spillane, who beat the last defender at the blue line and deposited the puck into the top left corner on the breakaway.
“We were trying to come out hard the first couple shifts, we just drove to the net and put it in,” Spillane said.
Those two early-period goals made any scoring tough to come by for Harvard. The Crimson outshot BC 9-5 in the first period and had two power play opportunities, but the home team’s frustration in getting good shots on BC captain Alison Quandt mounted as the game went along.
“To come out and get an early lead on the first shift of the game put a lot of pressure on Harvard, and I know they’ve had trouble scoring goals, and now they had to start pressing,” said BC coach Tom Mutch. “It’s a hard thing to do when you have to press first shift of the game. That gave Alison a little bit of a comfort zone and gave us a huge lift in a place a little bit louder than we were used to.”
A critical point in the game came two minutes after BC’s goal, when Crimson junior Lindsay Weaver stole a misplayed puck on the BC power play and broke in alone, but Quandt stopped Weaver’s move to the lower right corner. Quandt made 24 saves in all and earned Joe Bertagna honors as the tournament’s most valuable goaltender.
“She controlled her rebounds very well, she steered pucks to the corner when she had to,” Mutch said. “She did a great job understanding the game, closing it down when we needed a whistle and keeping it alive when she was fresh.”
BC’s top line did all the scoring, and the other lines that did not show up on the scoreboard helped wear down Harvard as the game went along. Mutch credited second-line freshman Becky Zavisza in particular for making the Crimson defense work. In addition, BC plugged the middle when Harvard cycled the puck, and the Crimson barely had any shots all night from the inside.
Harvard showed some aggression in the final two minutes in putting pressure on Quandt with the extra attacker. But junior Jennifer Sifers was too aggressive in hitting Quandt as she crashed the net and earned a roughing penalty.
The defeat was devastating for Harvard.
“There’s nothing you can say to the kids in the locker room, to have somebody take the Beanpot away from you in your own rink,” said Harvard coach Katey Stone. “It’s something we’ve owned for seven years, and we just let it go.”
Stone did her best to keep off the pressure of winning a record-tying eighth straight Beanpot title
“This group is different from any of the seven that won before,” she said. “This group was going after their first Beanpot. Especially with a young team, you have to keep this in that frame, otherwise there’s too much pressure If we had won this year, it would have been a tremendous accomplishment with the group we have and the parity among all four teams.”
Harvard is just 2-4-2 in its last eight. The team has barely averaged over a goal per game during that stretch, leaving a lot of room for improvement.
“It’s about work ethic and desire, that comes from within,” Stone said. “We’ve got great kids in our program, and they’re banged up emotionally right now, but it’s more about individually looking in the mirror and being proud of the effort you put forth that day, and I’m not sure we’re there right now. We all need to be there.”
BC, on the other hand, has plenty of momentum going down the stretch of the Hockey East season. The Eagles need just another win against Providence this weekend to wrap up a record second-place finish, but in the meantime, they will savor this victory.
“It’s unbelievable for our program,” Spillane said. “Our seniors have paved the way. They’ve been working so hard to get here. We’re really happy for them.”